Also referred to as 'minimally invasive' surgery or more colloquially as 'keyhole' surgery, laparoscopic surgery is where small incisions are made to the skin to allow advanced surgical tools to be inserted and used within the body cavity. The surgeon is guided by a small video camera which projects a real time image up on to a large monitor. Laparoscopic techniques are used in many surgical procedures, not only colorectal surgery.
Advantages of laparoscopic procedures
Prior to the development of laparoscopic techniques, all surgery was 'open' (also referred to as 'conventional'), in other words a much larger incision was needed to allow the surgeon to see directly the tissue they were operating on. The main advantages of laparoscopic surgery as against conventional surgery (as demonstrated by research) are...
- Less pain after surgery.
- Shorter recovery times (and shorter time in hospital).
- Faster return to normal activities.
- Less incisional scarring.
- Lower postoperative complication rate.
In the case of laparoscopic colorectal surgery, another advantage is that intestinal function returns more quickly than with conventional surgical techniques, while maintaining the equivalent cancer outcomes to conventional surgery.